FDA’s new regulations will require more food vendors to display calorie count

Posted at 7:12 PM, Dec 11, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-11 21:12:27-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- This year, it’s likely you’ll notice some changes to a few of the food stops you frequent, as the Food and Drug Administration is implementing a new policy for all chain food vendors.

The Food and Drug Administration's new policy requires all chain food vendors to display calorie content on display cases.

The new regulations are a part of the Affordable Care Act, and it’s all in an effort to combat the nation’s obesity epidemic.

FOX 13 News broke down all of the changes with local convenience store chain Maverik and heard from one dietitian who said the cost might be higher than the benefit.

The FDA will begin requiring all food vendors with 20 or more locations to display menus with the calorie content of all standard food items cooked in-house.

“They really want to consumer to be able to see the sign and make their choices that way,” said Aaron Simpson, the Vice President of Marketing for Maverik.

The new regulations are pretty specific, and now everything from fountain drinks, to cheese sticks to salads will have their calorie count on display, a costly change for each company.

“For a company the size of Maverik, we can absorb that cost a little easier, but this is going to be a tougher thing for smaller companies,” Simpson said. “We’ll probably have to hire someone next summer to work through the process, might even have to hire some consultants to make sure we are doing it right and complying with regulations.”

Julie Metos, a dietician and professor in the University of Utah College of Health, researches obesity and said the new regulations are a step in the right direction, considering most Americans are eating two out of three meals out of their homes.

Metos said: “I think what happens when you go to a restaurant or you go to the convenience store or you’re in a rush, you kind of have this idea that it’s special, right? That it’s an exception to your eating, but if this is what you’re eating all of the time we have to be a little more aware of the calorie content or the nutrition content.”

The new regulations will affect restaurants, convenience stores, coffee shops, amusement parks and even movie theaters, but even dieticians are betting it’s not going to affect which snack you’re taking into the cinema.

“If you really want something that’s your favorite food and a special treat, maybe you don’t even look at the nutrition facts label and that’s OK,” Metos said. “It’s a special treat--you already know it’s not the most healthy. That’s fine, but I think this is most helpful for your day-to-day eating.”

Metos said the displayed calorie count will probably only affect about 25 to 30 percent of the food choices people make, with the reason being that nutrition isn’t the first thing most Americans consider when picking their food.

“Nutrition is number three or four on the list, it’s on the list but taste is first, cost is second for most people, and then nutrition is third,” Metos said.

Businesses have until December 2015 to comply with the regulation.